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Download A STEP BY STEP GUIDE IMPORTING A Guide for Canadian...




A Guide for Canadian Entrepreneurs


A Step by Step Guide to Importing

ISBN: 978-1-894566-23-0 Copyright © 2008 FITT All rights reserved. The reproduction, storage in a retrieval system or transmission in any form or by any means (including electronic, mechanical, photographic, photocopying, or recording) of any part of this publication without the prior written permission from FITT (Forum for International Trade Training Inc.) is an infringement of copyright law.

Acknowledgments This publication was made possible by the cooperative efforts of I.E.Canada’s members and partners who dedicated time and expertise to develop this introductory guide for importers. In particular, FITT wishes to recognize the contributions of: The Business Link Business Service Center www.CanadaBusiness.ca/alberta

Disclaimer This information is to be considered solely as a guide and should not be quoted as, or considered to be, a legal authority. It may become obsolete in whole or in part at any time without notice. In particular, links to websites may have changed. The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program.

Aussi disponible en français sous le titre : Guide de l’importateur, étape par étape.


Table of Contents Chapter 1 Getting Started..................................................................................5 1.1 Importing: An overview.........................................................................5 1.2 Importer/export account number ..........................................................7 1.3 Quotas and permits ..............................................................................9 1.4 Industry-specific requirements ...........................................................10 Chapter 2 Selecting a Foreign Supplier .........................................................12 2.1 Why does the source country matter?................................................12 2.2 Tariff Treatments ................................................................................12 2.3 Anti-dumping and countervailing duties..............................................13 2.4 Finding a supplier ...............................................................................15 2.5 Key points to cover in a supplier contract...........................................17 Chapter 3 Financial & Contract Issues...........................................................18 3.1 Incoterms ...........................................................................................18 3.2 Transportation costs...........................................................................21 3.3 Insurance ...........................................................................................22 3.4 Tariff classification..............................................................................24 3.5 Import cost and ultimate pricing .........................................................26 3.6 Paying your supplier...........................................................................28 3.7 Import letter of credit (LC) ..................................................................29 Chapter 4 Logistics and Other Partners .......................................................31 4.1 Customs brokers ................................................................................31 4.2 Freight forwarders, 3PLs and couriers ...............................................32 4.3 Security of the supply chain ...............................................................35 4.4 Government agencies and associations.............................................37 Chapter 5 Customs documentation and clearance.......................................39 5.1 Accounting package ...........................................................................39 5.2 Importer of record...............................................................................42 5.3 Electronic documentation and online service .....................................43 5.4 Release of goods ...............................................................................45 5.5 Duties relief, and dispute resolution ...................................................46 Appendix A Checklist of Importing Commercial Goods......................................49 Appendix B Sources of assistance.....................................................................51 Appendix C Glossary .........................................................................................55



1 Chapter 

Getting Started ny business that imports goods into Canada from another country is involved in importing. As in any venture, there is an element of risk, which can be minimized by thorough research and the assistance of experienced service providers. Incorporate importing into a sound business plan, and you will find that importing is just one more way to ensure a successful entrepreneurial venture.


1.1 Importing: An Overview Much of the importing process will already be familiar to the Canadian entrepreneur: activities such as researching the market, finding suppliers, arranging for delivery, and keeping paperwork, are part of all businesses. When you import goods as part of your business, there are additional considerations: •

Market research: Do you know if you will be able to sell enough of the products to cover your costs? The products may not be available already in Canada, so it may be difficult to predict customer take-up, and the price they will be willing to pay.

Supplier reliability: Will you be able to get the products in the quality and quantities that you need? Does your supplier understand Canadian labelling regulations? Is he used to completing Canadian import documentation correctly?

Cash flow: Can you manage the financial demands of importing? There will be additional costs in transportation, insurance, foreign exchange etc. that you will have to build into your usual financial plans and cash flow projections.    • Service providers: You will be familiar with working with your carrier, warehousing company, tax advisor and banker. To assist you in importing, you may have to engage additional service providers: customs brokers, international freight forwarders, translators, currency dealers, etc.


If you already have a successful company, you might wonder why you should consider importing into Canada. There are a number of business benefits in sourcing raw materials or products abroad and importing them.                                                                                            Reasons to Start Importing

New products: A company can increase its market share by introducing new products that are not available from competitors, and by positioning itself as innovative. Traditional skills or attributes: Imported products reflecting traditional manufacturing skills or attributes, such as glassware from the Czech Republic or new designs from Italy, allow a company to use these attributes as a promotional strategy. Higher quality products: Some countries have developed a reputation as specialist manufacturers of high quality goods, for example, watches from Switzerland. Importing these products can help accompany develop a niche market. Lower prices for products: Lower labour costs or a beneficial tax regime may make products cheaper than a similar product manufactured in Canada. This lower base price may give the importer a competitive edge, if it is not offset by transportation and other costs.


TIP: The Canada Business network is a good source for information about importing. Start with the Import Info-Guide, in the importing section of the website http://www.canadabusiness.ca or call toll-free 1-888-576-4444.

“ Understanding the import process is important for certain types of product, becomes more important as the volume of import transactions increases, and is most important when the range of products diversifies.” – Data management company


Before you import, you will need to consider carefully the legal requirements as well as the practicalities. In fact, your planning for importing begins way back when you first decide which product(s) you will import, and from where. These early decisions will affect the documentation that you will need to get those products into Canada, the ease with which they clear Customs, and their final cost.                                                                                                Importing Considerations

Type of product

There are regulations covering special types of goods, such as food products and health products.

Source country

Cheaper goods may be offset by additional expenses relating to transportation costs, tariffs, export taxes in the source country, and foreign exchange fluctuations. Risks such as political instability and fluctuating economies may also increase the effort required in importing.

Service providers

Experienced customs brokers, freight forwarders and other service providers can smooth the way, but their fees must be included in pricing calculations. Even if such experienced service providers are used, ultimately you are responsible for complying with import regulations.


1.2 Importer / Exporter Account Number  

Before importing goods into Canada, you must obtain from Canada Revenue Agency a Business Number (BN) for an import/export account. The Business Number is used for major government revenue programs such as GST (Goods and Services Tax), payroll deductions and corporate income tax.     Import/export accounts are identified by RM, for example 123456789RM002


Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will use your import-export account number to process customs documents. To avoid delays in releasing your goods at the border, open your import/export account with Canada Revenue Agency before you try to import or export goods.          Options for obtaining a Business Number for an Import/Export Account:  

F Complete Form RC1 Request for a Business Number (BN); or F Use Business Registration Online; or F If you already have a Business Number, use Form RC1C Business Number (BN) – Import/Export Account Information, to add an import/export account; or F Call 1-800-959-5525, for either a new business or to add an import/export account. When completing form RC1, include all your business names as they may appear on customs release forms and other documents such as invoices. If the name on the customs release document is different from the name that CBSA and Canada Revenue Agency have on file for you, your shipment may be held up at the border. Send the completed print forms to your nearest tax services office, listed in the government section of your telephone book.    

Links to online forms and services: Form RC1


Business Registration Online


Form RC1C http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/rc1c/README.html

TIP: If you have not already set up your business, the Canada Business network has useful guides at http://www.canadabusiness.ca


1.3 Quotas and Permits The nature of the product you plan to import will affect the amount of paperwork you will have to complete, and perhaps may add to the cost of importing. No license is required to import most goods. However, some controlled products are subject to a quantitative import restriction or quota, and require a permit for importation into Canada. These controlled goods are all found on the Import Control List (ICL) at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/E-19/C.R.C.-c.604/text.html .    

Controlled Products: Agricultural products

For information about importing an agricultural product that is on the ICL, call (613) 944-0777 (English) or (613) 995-8104 (French).


For information about importing steel, call (613) 944-0778.

Weapons and munitions

For information about importing weapons or munitions, call (613) 9443097.

Clothing and textiles

Import permits for clothing and textiles are no longer required, except from countries that are eligible for a tariff preference level benefit under free trade agreements – U.S. and Mexico (NAFTA), Chile (CCFTA) and Costa Rica (CCRFTA). For information about importing a textile or clothing article from these countries, call (613) 996-3711.

Endangered species

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) controls the international trade of endangered animal and plant species. The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), part of Environment Canada, administers CITES in Canada. For permit requirements, call CWS at 1-800-668-6767, or see the CITES website at http://www.cites.ec.gc.ca/eng/sct3/index_e.cfm .

There is a small charge for the permit, if required, and there will be additional charges if a customs broker obtains the permit for you. You should also take into account the time it takes to process a permit application. An permit will be required for each separate shipment.


1.4 Industry-Specific Requirements Some goods are subject to the requirements of federal government departments, and may need permits, certificates and examinations. Memorandum Series D19 covers acts and regulations of Other Government Departments (OGDs). There may be no fees for these additional OGD requirements, but they will require additional effort on the part of the importer or the customs broker.

OGD (Other Government Departments) Requirements: Labelling

Goods for retail sale must comply with labeling laws – see the Guide to the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.


Motor vehicles must meet emission control standards – see Transport Canada’s website.


Food and agricultural products must pass the necessary health and sanitary checks – see Guide to importing Foods Products Commercially.

Personal products

Personal product safety is overseen by Health Canada – see guides for cosmetics importers, and the policy on drugs and natural health products.

Hazardous products

Health Canada is responsible for household chemicals and other hazardous products – see the guide on hazardous products.

Electrical appliances

Electrical appliances and equipment must be certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) before they can be sold in Canada. Call the CSA International toll-free at 1-866-797-4272 for information on product certification.


Imports of liquor, wine and beer require prior authorization from the appropriate provincial liquor commission, see Memorandum D3-1-3. A useful summary of regulations is on The Kirkwood Group’s website.

Prohibited goods

Some goods are prohibited, such as hate literature and pornography, second-hand mattresses, etc. – see Memorandum Series D9.


TIP: Contact information for important government agencies is given in Appendix B. Industry associations will also be able to advise you.

Links to online resources concerning OGDs: Memorandum Series D19 (OGDs) http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d19-eng.html Guide to the Consumer Packaging & Labelling Act http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/epic/site/cb-bc.nsf/en/01248e.html Transport Canada (vehicles) http://www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/importation/menu.htm Guide to Importing Food Products Commercially http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/imp/guide1e.shtml Health Canada (cosmetics) http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/indust/cosmet_guide/index_e.html Health Canada (drugs & natural health products) http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/compli-conform/info-prod/drugsdrogues/pol_0019_tc-tm_e.html Health Canada (hazardous products) http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/indust/reference_guideconsultation_rapid/intro_e.html CSA International (electrical products) http://www.csa-international.org/how_get_started/ Memorandum D3-1-3 (alcohol) http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/E/pub/cm/d3-1-3/README.html The Kirkwood Group (alcohol) http://www.thekirkwoodgroup.com/boards/ Memorandum Series D9 (prohibited goods) http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d9-eng.html  


2 Chapter 

Selecting a Foreign Supplier

fter you have determined which products you want to import, the next step is to consider from which country you will import them. In fact, often the prospective importer already has a country in mind – he has seen a product that he thinks will sell well in Canada, or he has a family business abroad which can supply products for the Canadian market. However, it is important to consider carefully, not necessarily sourcing the products from the most obvious country.  

2.1 Why Does the Source Country Matter? Your choice of source country can impact the final cost of the imported product. For Customs purposes, the “country of origin” is the country in which the goods are grown, manufactured or produced. In the case of a manufactured article, the country of origin is where the item was substantially transformed into its present form.  

2.2 Tariff Treatments • The country of origin of your goods determines the trade agreement under

which they qualify, and the tariff treatment they will receive. Duties can range from 0% to 35%, directly impacting the profitability of the imported product. • Under various trade agreements and other special tariff provisions, reduced

tariffs apply to products from certain countries – these are preferential tariff treatments. • To qualify for these preferential rates, you must have a “certificate of origin”

specific to the agreement – for example, to claim reduced duty rates for an import from the USA or Mexico you must complete a valid NAFTA certificate of origin. A list of trade agreements is on the website of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.


• A particular example of the preferential tariff treatment is the Least Developed

Country Tariff, which is 0% on all qualifying goods – see Memorandum D114-4.    


TIP:  A List of Countries and applicable tariff treatments is on the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website.

2.3 Anti-dumping & Countervailing Duties • If you are importing from a country with a state-controlled economy, and the

transaction value has been subsidized in some way, you may incur countervailing duties to offset the subsidy. • If the price you pay for the goods is determined to be less than the normal price

charged by Canadian suppliers, you may incur anti-dumping duties. • To find out if your goods will be subject to countervailing duties, check the

SIMA Self-Assessment Guide.   Links to online resources: List of trade agreements http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/ Memorandum D11-4-4 Least developed Country Tariff http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/E/pub/cm/d11-4-4/README.html List of Countries and applicable tariff treatments http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/trade-commerce/tariff-tarif/2008/01-99/countries-pays-eng.pdf

SIMA Self-Assessment Guide http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/sima-lmsi/self-eng.html  


How else does the source country impact your final product cost? Quotas

As noted earlier, there are country-specific quotas that are aimed at particular goods from specific countries. You should check the Import Control List (ICL) and the Area Control List (ACL) to ensure that the country of origin does not restrict the import of that product. ICL: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/E-19/C.R.C.-c.604/text.html ACL: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/E-19/SOR-81-543/100049.html

Foreign exchange and insurance

Charges for foreign exchange and insurance may be higher for countries with volatile economies or unstable political or legal environments.


Transportation costs will be higher, and delivery times may be longer, for countries that are further away. Time zones may result in you doing most of your business in the middle of the night.


If you, or your employees, don’t speak the local language, your relationship with your supplier may be dependent on good translators.

Familiarity with the country

You may have to visit the source country many times in order to select the best supplier, develop supplier relationships, check the quality of the products, etc. Having contacts there makes doing business easier.

Level of development

It may be harder to do business with a developing country, especially if the supplier is new to exporting. However, high volumes of current trade with Canada will suggest that other Canadian companies are successfully trading with the country. Use Trade Data Online to find the volume of current trade with Canada, and the types of products currently imported. Trade Data Online: http://www.ic.gc.ca/tdo

Intellectual property

If your product is being manufactured and packaged for you exclusively, you may have to consider the ease of obtaining and enforcing patents.


2.4 Finding a Supplier There are a number of ways to find a supplier that do not involve visiting the country, or attending a tradeshow. • • • • •

Multinational trade directories Country-specific trade directories Yellow Pages Embassies Personal recommendation

Multi-national trade directories An international directory such as Kompass Online can be searched across many countries at once. Kompass not only provides contact information on manufacturers worldwide, it also indicates if they are currently exporting.

Country-specific trade directories Another method is to first identify a country or group of countries producing the product, and then look for a manufacturers’ directory for that country. Find which countries are already exporting the product to Canada using Trade Data Online: • select “all imports” • select “all countries (detailed)” • type in the appropriate product code To find an online business directory for a specific country, use Google Directory: • choose an appropriate country • select “business and economy” • select “directories”

Yellow Pages  Most countries have a form of Yellow Pages directory, searchable online.

Embassies  National embassies, here in Canada, may be able to help you find a supplier, through their commercial sections. They often have company directories and buyers’ guides for their country or region. See Appendix B for contact information for embassies, consulates and trade offices in Canada.


Personal recommendation  Ideally, you want a supplier with a record of efficiently supplying goods to Canada, so personal recommendations are useful. You can consult your industry association or a bilateral trade association (see Appendix B), to identify foreign companies with existing strong links to Canada. This step is part of the due diligence you undertake, to determine the reliability and reputation of a potential supplier, as you would do with your Canadian suppliers.

References  Once you have identified a potential supplier, the Trade Commissioners in Canadian embassies, consulates and high commissions abroad will be likely to know if that company is already doing business in Canada. Other references can be sought from banks and credit reporting agencies, as part of due diligence.

Links to online sources: Kompass Online http://www.kompass.com Trade Data Online http://www.ic.gc.ca/tdo Google Directory http://www.google.ca/Top/Regional International Yellow Pages http://www.yellow.com/international.html Canadian Trade Commissioners http://infoexport.gc.ca


2.5 Key Points to Cover in a Supplier Contract Parties to the contract – who are the parties, and in what capacity they are acting Exclusivity – the territory and term of exclusive distribution rights Goods – what goods are being bought, at what volumes Warranties – warranties and who is responsible for repair, replacement or return of defective product Price – purchase price, currency, exchange rate, and what is included in the price Payment method – method of payment, timing of installments and holdbacks subject to inspection Regulatory issues – who is responsible for obtaining export or import licenses, and meeting legal or technical regulations such as labeling and standards Trading terms – use Incoterms to specify responsibility for transport and insurance, and where transfer of title takes place Dealing with problems – procedures if a dispute arises or your supplier defaults, and legal jurisdiction


3 Chapter 

Financial & Contract Issues  


he cost of importing a product into Canada will vary not only with the cost of purchase from a supplier, and the taxes and duties levied, but also such factors as transportation costs, insurance costs, and financing costs.

Who is responsible for transportation and insurance costs will be determined by the terms of the contract that you negotiate with your supplier. You and your supplier must have a common understanding of the exact meaning of the terms you have used in the contract.

TIP: Ask your banker to introduce you to his international trade division, to get the best terms for your financing needs.

3.1 Incoterms Incoterms, which were developed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), provide a common terminology for international shipments, and minimize misunderstandings. Incoterms signify to both the seller and the buyer what is, and more importantly what is not, included in the selling price. They also indicate where the exporter’s responsibility ends and the importer’s responsibility begins with respect to ownership, and insurance of the goods. Which Incoterm will apply to a particular trade transaction is a matter of negotiation between seller and buyer. However, inclusion of the appropriate term in sales quotations is crucial to determine the responsibilities of each party in the contract of sale. •

For example, you need to know if all transportation and insurance are included in the price quoted for the goods, and if not, at what point do you become responsible for paying carriers and arranging insurance coverage.


The legal definition of each Incoterm comes from the International Chamber of Commerce. A brief definition of each term is provided below. Make sure that you and your supplier have the same understanding of the term that you agree to. You can buy from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce the ICC chart of Incoterms, showing graphically the responsibilities of seller and buyer at each movement of the shipment from the supplier’s place of business to your place of business. Similar charts are often available from banks and logistics companies.

Links to services: International Chamber of Commerce http://www.iccbooks.com Canadian Chamber of Commerce (ICC Incoterms chart) http://www.chamber.ca/article.asp?id=3607

TIP: Ask your customs broker, bank or freight forwarder for a free chart of Incoterms, to help guide your negotiations, but always check the official meaning of the Incoterm that you use in the contract.

Brief definitions of Incoterms: EXW Ex Works (named place)

FCA Free Carrier (named port)

FAS Free Alongside Ship (named port of shipment)

This Incoterm puts the most responsibility on the buyer. Title and risk pass to buyer including payment of all transportation and insurance cost from the seller's door. Similar to FOB, except the seller’s obligations are met when the goods are delivered into the custody of the carrier at the port. The risk of loss/damage is transferred at the buyer at this time, not at the ship’s rail. Title and risk pass to buyer including payment of all transportation and insurance cost once delivered alongside ship by the seller.


FOB Free On Board (named port of shipment)

CFR Cost and Freight (named port of destination)

CIF Cost Insurance and Freight (named port of destination)

CPT Carriage Paid To (named place of destination)

CIP Carriage Insurance Paid (named port of destination)

DAF Delivered At Frontier (named place)

DES Delivered Ex Ship (named port of destination)

DEQ Delivered Ex Quay (named port of destination)

DDU Delivered Duty Unpaid (named place of destination)

Title and risk pass to buyer including payment of all transportation and insurance cost once delivered on board the ship by the seller. Free On Rail (FOR) and Free On Truck (FOT) are used when goods are carried by rail or road. Title, risk and insurance cost pass to buyer when delivered on board the ship by seller who pays the transportation cost to the destination port. Title and risk pass to buyer when delivered on board the ship by seller who pays transportation and insurance cost to destination port. Title, risk and insurance cost pass to buyer when delivered to carrier by seller who pays transportation cost to destination. Title and risk pass to buyer when delivered to carrier by seller who pays transportation and insurance cost to destination. Title, risk and responsibility for import clearance pass to buyer when delivered to named border point by seller, but before they reach the “customs border” of the importing country named in the sales contract. Title, risk, responsibility for vessel discharge and import clearance pass to buyer when seller delivers goods on board the ship to destination port. Title and risk pass to buyer when delivered on board the ship at the destination point by the seller who delivers goods on dock at destination point cleared for import. Title, risk and responsibility of import clearance pass to buyer when seller delivers goods to named destination point. Buyer is obligated for import clearance.

DDP This Incoterm puts the least responsibility on the buyer. Title and risk pass to buyer when seller delivers goods Delivered Duty Paid (named place of destination) to named destination point cleared for import.


3.2 Transportation costs

Source: Importing into Canada, I.E.Canada, 2005

“ There are three aspects to importing: first, the physical movement of goods across the border; second, the costs associated with the entire shipment; and third, the optimization of the import process.” – Logistics service provider


3.3 Insurance Insurance is essential to protect you against potential losses. •

Freight insurance will usually cover possible loss of goods, or damage to goods, for the entire trip, including time spent in warehouses during shipment.

Note that a “marine policy insurance” covers transportation by road, rail and air, as well as by sea.     Insurance you may need to consider:  


Loss or damage to goods in transit


Short-shipment by the supplier


Failure of the seller to supply


Transport delays and hold-ups at ports


Import duties


Storage of goods in bonded warehouses


Unloading, examination, and re-loading charges


Performance problems with the finished products


Health and safety problems with the product


Currency fluctuations

  TIP: Make sure you inspect the goods on receipt, so you can remedy any problems promptly.

Who Arranges the Insurance? The responsibility for organizing insurance can be shared between the import/buyer and exporter/seller, or be undertaken by just one. Make sure the contract confirms which option has been chosen. Incoterms clarify to what extent a party must take responsibility for particular risks during transportation.


Points to consider: •

If you arrange insurance yourself, you’ll know how much you’re paying and what’s included.

If your supplier arranges insurance, make sure you know the details of the insurance cover.

Carriers, freight forwarders and third party service providers will only arrange insurance if so instructed in writing; they do not do so automatically.

Check with your business insurance provider, for coverage already available to you.

Finding an insurance company To find a business insurance provider, check one of the following specialty directories, online or in the business section of your public library: Special Markets Directory online from Stone & Cox / Canadian Insurance at http://www.cdnins.com/directory/specialmarket.htm Insurance Marketer online from Business Information Group / Canadian Underwriter at http://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/esource/default.asp General Insurance Register published by Stone & Cox / Canadian Insurance Western Canada Insurance Market Finder, online at http://www.insurancewest.ca/marketfinder.shtml Ontario Insurance Directory published by Business Information Group / Canadian Underwriter

TIP: A certificate of insurance, prepared by the exporter or freight forwarder to indicate the presence of insurance against loss of or damage to the goods, may be required as part of the documentation specified under the terms of a letter of credit.


3.4 Tariff classification For each item you are importing, you’ll need to determine the 10-digit classification number, which determines the rate of duty payable. The current version of Canada’s Customs Tariff, which conforms to the Harmonized System (HS) developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO), is on the CBSA website. For example, if you are importing silver lockets from a manufacturer in Italy, the HS code is 7113.11.00.00. No preferential tariffs apply, so the duty rate is 8.5%. Example: Tariff Schedule Unit of Meas.

MFN Tariff


III. –Jeweller, Goldsmiths’ and Silversmiths’ Wares and Other Articles Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, or precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal: - -Of silver, whether or not plated of clad with other precious metal - - -Findings, not plated or clad




- - -Other





- -Of other precious metal, whether or not plated or clad with precious metal - - -Findings, not plated or clad





- - -Other

7113.20 7113.20.10


- -Of base metal clad with precious metal - - -Findings





- - -Other



Tariff Item


Description of Goods








Applicable Preferential Tariffs



TIP: To find where to start in the Tariff Schedule, use the Commodity Search tool on Statistics Canada’s website. For CBSA to determine that you have used the right classification, you must provide a detailed description of the product on the invoice – “silver lockets” as the product description is insufficient for customs purposes. The description must include • Type of product (metal) • Use of product (jewellery – not ornaments, under heading 7114) • Condition (new – not antiques, which are classified in chapter 97) • Manufacture (mass-produced – not works of art, also in chapter 97) • Composition (silver – not base metal, in chapters 72-83) Before your shipment arrives, a CBSA specialist can help you determine the duties you’ll have to pay on the goods. You’ll need to give CBSA a detailed description of the goods, and know their value and origin – see Memorandum D11-11-1 National Customs Rulings. CBSA also offers free seminars on classification. Links to online resources: Customs Tariff http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/trade-commerce/tariff-tarif/menu-eng.html …includes List of Countries and applicable tariff treatments http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/trade-commerce/tariff-tarif/2008/01-99/countries-pays-eng.pdf

Commodity Search http://www.statcan.ca/trade/scripts/trade_search.cgi Memorandum D11-11-1 National Customs Rulings http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/E/pub/cm/d11-11-1/README.html CBSA seminars http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/events-evenements/menu-eng.html


3.5 Import cost and ultimate pricing The import cost of the goods includes more than the purchase price of the goods themselves: •

The total cost will include the cost of packing, transport, insurance and customs duties. • The exchange rate may fluctuate between your placing the order, and paying for it. • The method of payment may involve additional costs – for example, your bank may charge you for making a foreign currency payment. • Delays in goods arriving at specified points en route may result in additional charges – for example, unanticipated storage costs. • Canada Border Services Agency may examine your shipment, incurring costs. • There may be penalties for incorrect documentation or late accounting, or interest owed on late payment of duties. • GST (goods and services tax) is payable on most goods at the time of importation. • Excise tax or excise duty may be payable – for example on tobacco and alcohol products. The price you set for your goods in the Canadian market should take into account all costs that are additional to the purchase price, as well as your profit margin.


Product Costing Worksheet Reference number: Name of supplier: Address:

Product: Unit volume quoted: Gross weight: Cubic measure: RESPONSIBILITY: Supplier

Foreign charges Unit cost Overseas agent’s commission Export packaging Labelling Factory loading charges Transport charges Cartage Freight to port Outbound customs brokerage fees Unloading charges Terminal charges Storage fees Loading charges Ocean freight Marine insurance All risks insurance Forwarding agent’s fee Border charges Customs duties Goods and Services Tax Excise tax Customs broker charges Other charges Bank charges Financing charges Provincial tax TOTAL COST Source: adapted from Importing Into Canada, I.E. Canada, 2005.




3.6 Paying Your Supplier There are four main methods for paying foreign suppliers for the goods you import from them:     Methods of payment:  


Open account


Documentary collection


Letter of credit (LC)


Advance payment

For importers, the risk increases as you move down the list. Open account •

The supplier ships goods and passes title to the goods to the importer, and then requires payment within an agreed period (30, 60, 90 days or even longer).

Documentary collection •

When the goods are shipped, the supplier sends the shipping documents to the importer’s bank. Next, the importer pays the bank with a sight or term draft, in exchange for the documents. The importer then has title to the goods.

Letter of credit (LC) •

Letters of credit provide some security to both supplier and importer, because they rely on the supplier’s bank and the importer’s bank to receive and check shipping documents, and to guarantee payment. The importer’s bank guarantees to pay when presented with a set of specified export documents by the supplier’s bank. The bank guarantee is an added cost.

Advance payment •

The supplier ships only when payment has been received – this is also known as “cash in advance”.


Open account trading is the least risky – you only pay after receiving the goods. But few foreign companies are willing to wait so long for payment. Advance payment is the most risky – there is a chance you’ll pay but not receive the goods. Payment methods and terms are frequently a matter of negotiation. For example, you might offer the supplier an import letter of credit, in return for an extended payment period, to match your cash flow requirements.

3.7 Import Letter of Credit (LC) An import letter of credit is a document issued by major bank on behalf of an importer, or buyer. The import LC guarantees an exporter payment for goods and services, provided the terms of the LC have been met. It is one way to ensure that your company doesn’t pay for goods until the supplier provides evidence that the goods have been shipped. By using an import letter of credit for your international purchases, you can: •

Avoid advance payments or deposits

Possibly negotiate a better price from your supplier, since your payment is guaranteed

Demonstrate your company’s creditworthiness to the supplier

Support your supplier’s access to bank credit, since in many countries, letters of credit are pledged by exporters as security against working capital loans.

Confirmed LC •

LCs can be confirmed or unconfirmed. For example, a foreign bank can confirm an LC issued by a Canadian bank, thus guaranteeing that the foreign bank will pay the foreign supplier. Obviously, the foreign supplier will prefer to have a confirmed LC.

Irrevocable LC •

LCs can also be irrevocable, in which case they can’t be cancelled or amended without your approval.

TIP: The most secure form of LC is both confirmed and irrevocable.


    Study the LC details carefully:  


Are the importer’s and supplier’s names complete, and spelled correctly?


Are the amount and currency of the LC correct?


Are the shipping and expiry dates acceptable?


Is the time period for presentation of the documents sufficient?


Are the goods or services to be supplied described accurately?


Are the insurance specifications acceptable?

Other financial considerations •

Payment methods can have a major impact on your cash flow.

You will need a comprehensive financial plan, to ensure that your company has sufficient cash or operating lines of credit.

You’ll need to know the timing of inflows and outflows

Banks offer import finance packages to bridge the period between paying for your imports, and receiving payment when you sell the goods on to your customers.

TIP: Check the Canadian trademark database ( http://www.ic.gc.ca/tm ) to determine if the product brand name will be allowed in Canada – if not, you may have to change product literature as well as labels. If a similar brand name is already trademarked in Canada, consult a trademark lawyer.

“ Even if you use third parties, you need to know the underlying cost of every part of the import process.” – International trade advisor


4 Chapter 

Logistics and Other Partners


any services are available to help companies involved in global trade with their logistics functions, including security requirements, financial documentation, packaging, labelling and transport.

For the importer, there may be many service providers and multiple modes of transportation.

4.1 Customs brokers Customs brokers are licensed by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to carry out customs-related responsibilities on behalf of the companies who are their clients. Importers may clear their own goods through Customs, but most importers use a customs broker to pull together all the required information and documents, and to clear the goods through customs. Using a customs broker can often speed up the clearance process, since most brokers have the online systems to submit paperwork ahead of time. A customs broker’s services include: •

Monitoring the status of shipments

Obtaining release of imported goods

Paying any duties that apply

Obtaining, preparing and presenting or transmitting the necessary document or data

Maintaining records, and

Responding to any CBSA concerns after payment

Advising the importer on changes in customs regulations.


The broker will charge a fee for these services, either a fixed charge or based on the value of the goods.

Finding a customs broker: Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB) On the CSCB website is a directory of member brokers http://www.cscb.ca/040/md_e.asp Export and Import Controls Bureau (EICB) EICB maintains a list of brokers which have access to the online permit application system of Foreign Affairs & International Trade Canada. http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/trade/eicb/general/brokers-en.asp Yellow Pages In your telephone book or online, look under “Customs brokers” http://www.yellowpages.ca

TIP: On the CSCB website is a useful guide to selecting a customs broker, See http://www.cscb.ca/070/pb_fs02_e.html .

4.2 Freight forwarders, 3PLs and couriers Freight forwarders Freight forwarding is the process of transporting goods internationally. This can include multiple modes of transport, as well as paying fees and insurance charges on behalf of the importer. Freight forwarders are also an important part of the supply chain from a security viewpoint. A freight forwarder’s services include: •

Assisting with freight quotes

Booking space for freight on airlines, ships and other modes of transport

Consolidating shipments from different suppliers

Meeting the documentary requirements of the destination country


Preparing shipping documents, banking and other collection papers necessary in the transaction

Processing shipping documents

Handling certification procedures

Distributing documents to the necessary parties in the transaction – banks, offices, buyers, suppliers, etc.

Arranging for insurance coverage

Arranging for pre-shipment inspections and customs clearance

Providing warehouse facilities

Providing information on hazardous materials, if necessary

TIP: When the service provider acts as both customs broker and freight forwarder, coordination of shipment clearance will be improved. Delays are common, however, even with an experienced freight forwarder.

Third party logistics providers (3PLs) A third party logistics provider (3PL) is a firm that provides outsourced or “third party” logistics services. The 3PL will undertake activities such as •

Pick and pack



Tracking and tracing

Specific packaging

Providing a customized security system

Finding a freight forwarder or 3PL: Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) On the CIFFA website is a members directory, searchable by province http://www.ciffa.com/members_directory.asp


TIP: On the CIFFA website is a publication outlining standard trading conditions, i.e. the roles and responsibilities of freight forwarder and client company. See http://www.ciffa.com/about_stc.asp .

Couriers You may prefer to use a courier service, if the shipment is not of high value. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) offers a Low-Value Shipment program (LVS) for imports valued at less than $1600 CDN. One advantage of the LVS program is that the importer can submit a monthly accounting report to CBSA, rather than accounting for each shipment individually.

Canada Post Canada Post will also deliver any commercial imports valued at less than $1600 CDN, see the Customs Requirements in Canada Post’s Postal Guide. On the importer’s behalf, Canada Post completes Form E14 Customs Postal Import Form, which shows the tariff classification, duty rate, value for duty, and total duty and taxes owing. Canada Post clears the goods, and charges $5 ($8 for priority post shipments) for the service – see Memorandum Series D5.

Links to online resources: Low Value Shipments (LVS) http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/import/courier/lvs-efv/menu-eng.html Canada Post – Customs requirements http://www.canadapost.ca/tools/pg/manual/PGcustoms-e.asp Memorandum Series D5 (importing by mail) http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d5-eng.html


Warehousing You may also need the services of a bonded warehouse or a sufferance warehouse. If the imported goods are destined for re-export, you can store them in a bonded warehouse, with deferral of all duties including GST. The goods may undergo valueadded alterations while in bond: labelling and marking, packaging, testing, diluting cutting or trimming, disassembly transportation purposes. Sufferance warehouses are licensed by Canada Revenue Agency for short-term storage and examination of imported goods pending release from Customs.

4.3 Security of the Supply Chain It is important to investigate the security programs that your various service providers may have in place.  

Supply chain security programs: PIP Partners in Protection

A voluntary program run by CBSA, in which participating companies improve their own security, submit to inspection by PIP officials, and attest to the security of their supply chain partners.

ACI Advance Commercial Information

Importing companies provide electronic documentation to CBSA prior to the arrival of the shipment. The first phases of ACI covered air and sea carriers. The final phase, eManifest, requires electronic information on cargo, crew and conveyance for all modes of transport, and so applies to importers and customs brokers as well as freight forwarders.

TDG Transportation of Dangerous Goods

TDG legislation covers training requirements for all elements of shipping dangerous goods, from handling the goods to labeling and documentation. The TDG Directorate of Transport Canada is responsible.

CSI Container Security Initiative

Part of a multinational program, CSI involves CBSA officials examining cargo containers before they are loaded onto a Canada-bound ship.


Most supply chain security measures involve • • • •

Ensuring each partner in the supply chain is secure Advance notification to Customs of the contents of arriving shipments Screening and inspection of shipments in transit, and Inspection of shipments on entry.

These programs have counterparts in other countries. The ones Canadian importers are likely to encounter are: • •

C-TPAT Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, in the United States, and the SAFE Framework of the World Customs Organization, in which participating companies (including importers, carriers and other service providers) are certified as “authorized economic operators” (AEO).

Links to online resources: PIP http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/security-securite/pip-pep/menu-eng.html ACI http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/aci-ipec/menu-eng.html eManifest http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/manif/menu-eng.html TDG http://www.tc.gc.ca/tdg/menu.htm CSI http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/security-securite/csi-irsc-eng.html Additional benefits of security compliance: • •

CSA – Customs Self Assessment CSA participants use their own systems to declare shipments, and have streamlined clearance processes, increasing efficiency and cost savings. FAST – Free And Secure Trade Companies participating in both PIP and CSA may participate in the FAST program, which provides special FAST lanes at the border, for expedited clearance.


There are security companies who can help you ensure that your part of the supply chain is secure, and evaluate your logistics partners.

Finding a security company: Yellow Pages In your telephone book or online, look under “security companies” http://www.yellowpages.ca Export Development Canada (EDC) EDC approves security companies under a program it offers to exporters http://www.edc.ca/english/financing_9798.htm

4.4 Government agencies and associations In addition to commercial service providers such as customs brokers, logistics companies, warehousing and fulfillment services, there are other organizations that will be helpful when you are planning to import (see Appendix B): •

Small business centre – Your municipality will have a small business centre where you will find company directories, courses on importing, and business advisors who can help with your business plan.

Bilateral business association – Companies who are members of bilateral business associations are often willing to provide insights into doing business in foreign countries – look under “associations” in the Yellow Pages, especially in Ottawa and other major cities.

Embassies – Embassies of foreign governments in Canada can provide information on potential suppliers.

Chamber of commerce – Go to a meeting of your local chamber of commerce to meet other local companies who are importing, who may share their insights and experiences.

Industry association – your industry association may have expertise in regulatory issues affecting your sector, including import regulations.

Provincial government – Provincial and regional government agencies offer services to assist business.


Federal government – Federal government agencies including Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Competition Bureau, among others, can provide assistance on specific issues relating to importing, inspecting, and labeling.

TIP: CBSA has several guides in the SME Centre on its website. CBSA also offers free seminars on importing.

Links to online resources: Canadian Food Inspection Agency – Food imports http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/impe.shtml Canadian Food Inspection Agency – Plant imports http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/plaveg/impe.shtml Competition Bureau – Labelling http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/epic/site/cb-bc.nsf/en/01436e.html CBSA SME Centre http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/sme-pme/import-sme-pme-eng.html CBSA free seminars http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/events-evenements/menu-eng.html

In particular, you should be aware of the other government agencies (OGDs) that regulate imports, in addition to the CBSA. Contact information for many of these organizations is provided in Appendix B.



5 Chapter 

Customs Documentation & Clearance ustoms documents are the set of documents required by a customs authority to accurately and completely identify goods which are being imported. Some of the documents will come from the supplier, others will be provided by the carrier.


5.1 Accounting package You must submit a final accounting package with your shipment.  

Contents of the accounting package: Two copies of the cargo control document (CCD) Two copies of the invoice Two copies of a completed Form B3 – Canada Customs Coding Form Any import permits, health certificates, or forms that other federal government departments (OGDs) may require If necessary, Form A – Certificate of Origin

TIP: Make sure you have contacted the appropriate OGDs before the goods are shipped, so that you have time to obtain the necessary documentation.


Cargo Control Document Your carrier uses the Cargo Control document to report your shipment to Canada Border Services agency (CBSA), and will also send you a copy to inform you that your shipment has arrived. The cargo control document may also take the form of a manifest, waybill or other approved document.

Customs Invoice The importer and seller should work together, if possible, to complete the customs invoice, as the information on this document will determine the duties and taxes owing. You can avoid later reassessments by ensuring that the invoice has enough detail to identify the goods, determine the quantity, and establish the tariff classification correctly. The invoice can be •

A Canada Customs Invoice (CCI), completed by either you or the seller (for instructions on how to complete the CCI, see Memorandum D1-4-1); or

A commercial invoice containing the same information as a CCI; or

A commercial invoice which indicates the buyer, seller, country of origin, price paid or payable, and a detailed description of the goods, including quantity, plus a CCI that provides the remaining information.

Form B3 Canada Customs Coding Form To account for commercial goods, you have to document the importation on Form B3 Canada Customs Coding Form. As a new importer, you may need help completing Form B3 – determining some of the elements, including tariff classification, value for duty, and the origin of your goods, can be complex. Brochure RC4229 Importing Commercial Goods Into Canada provides step-bystep instructions on how to complete Form B3.

TIP: CBSA offers free seminars on completing form B3


Links to online forms and guides: Memorandum D1-4-1, Canada Customs Invoice Requirements http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d1/d1-4-1-eng.html Form B3, Canada Customs Coding Form http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/E/pbg/cf/b3-3/README.html Importing Commercial Goods Into Canada http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/pub/rc4229-eng.html CBSA free seminars http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/events-evenements/menu-eng.html

    Form B3 – Canada Customs Coding Form includes:  


Your importer name and import/export account number


A description of the goods


The direct shipment date


The tariff treatment


The country of origin


The value for duty


The appropriate duty or tax rates; and


The calculation of duties owing.

Certificate of origin The country of origin must be clearly indicated on the goods. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) uses the certificate of origin to support the tariff treatment you claim on Form B3. Certificates of origin for NAFTA, CIFTA or CCFTA apply if you are claiming lower customs duty rates under those free trade agreements.


Forms and guides relating to proof of origin are in Memorandum Series D11. Form A – Certificate of Origin, or the Exporter’s Statement of Origin, apply to goods covered by the General Preferential Tariff or the Least Developed Country Tariff.

Links to online forms and guides: Memorandum Series D11 http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d11-eng.html Form A, Certificate of Origin http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/E/pub/cm/d11-4-2/README.html (see page 11)

5.2 Importer of Record The importer of record is the party who is • • •

responsible for the payment of all duties and taxes to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA); responsible for the accuracy of the information presented to CBSA; liable for any fines or penalties resulting from missing or inaccurate information.

Even if you use a customs broker or freight forwarder or other service provider to prepare the paperwork and clear the goods, you are responsible for producing the correct documents, accurately completed, when required. The importer of record may also claim input tax credits with respect to GST paid on goods imported into Canada.

Importance of accurate completion Completing forms accurately and honestly will mean faster release of your goods. Your compliance record, as well as the type of goods you are importing, will affect the frequency of CBSA examinations of your imported shipments. If your goods are examined, you may incur additional charges, such as the costs associated with loading and unloading cargo.


In particular, it is important to declare the value for duty correctly. This is basically the price you paid for the goods, converted into Canadian funds. Memorandum Series D13 covers valuation. If you have consolidated shipments – that is, two or more shipments, possibly with different products, dispatched together under one bill of lading – you must provide details of all products. This is important even if your supplier has enclosed noncommercial goods, such as samples, in the commercial shipment.

Links to online forms and guides: Input tax credits http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/gl/p-125/README.html Memorandum Series D13 (valuation) http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d13-eng.html

Record-keeping You are responsible for keeping all records on reporting, releasing, accounting and paying for the imported goods, for 6 years after the year you import the goods. Even if a customs broker clears your shipment, you should keep the records yourself. Records that are created electronically are recognized by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), so long as there are supporting source documents or hard copy documents, and the electronic records can be produced as “accessible and readable copy”. Documentation that originates in paper format must be kept as such, though permission to microfilm can be obtained from CBSA. Your carrier must keep paper or electronic records for three years, including charts of accounts, trip, movement history reports and bills of lading.

5.3 Electronic documentation and online service Increasingly, EDI (electronic dissemination of information) processes are becoming the norm in importing into Canada. For example, Canada Border Services Agency’s programs using EDI include Advance Commercial Information (ACI) and Customs Self Assessment (CSA), security-related programs described in Chapter 4.


One of the advantages of using a customs broker, freight forwarder or 3PL company is that they will already be familiar with these options, which are faster and more convenient than paper. Banks also have online systems to help with import letters of credit and other importrelated financial transactions.


CBSA’s EDI services: ACROSS Accelerated Commercial Release Operations Support System

You transmit release and invoice data by EDI. ACROSS is being upgraded to an “OGD single window interface”, encompassing OGD requirements as well as the customs documents required by CBSA.

PARS Pre-Arrival Review System

You submit the appropriate documentation up to 30 days, but at least one hour, before the goods arrive in Canada, and the release documentation is ready when the goods arrive.

RFD Release on Full Documentation

You submit release and accounting information in a single EDI transmission either before, or when, a shipment arrives, and defer the payment of duties and taxes to a later date (usually on a monthly basis).

CCEPS Commercial Cash Entry Processing System

A self-serve system at some CBSA offices – you input the import details of your goods, and CCEPS calculates the applicable duties and taxes, which you then pay and take delivery of your goods.

CADEX Customs Automated Data Exchange

For goods already released, you transmit your accounting documents electronically to CBSA. You can also use CADEX to query certain CBSA files, receive accounting data, and receive release notifications.


5.4 Release of goods Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) processes most shipments at the border (highway border, rail border, international airport, seaport or customs mail centre). The carrier reports your shipment to CBSA when it arrives at the international border entry point, or increasingly, prior to arrival. Your carrier reports the goods either on an approved cargo control document (CCD), or in the case or marine and rail shipments, electronically submits the cargo information using EDI, before arrival at the Canadian border. The goods are “released” when you have paid the duties and taxes owing. You can choose to have CBSA release the goods at an inland office – a customs office not located at the border. For example, your shipment will arrive at Fort Erie, Ontario, but you want CBSA to release it to you in Toronto. In this case, your carrier reports the goods at Fort Erie, but must be a bonded carrier (have posted security with Customs) to carry non-duty-paid goods to one of the approved inland offices in Toronto.     Release of goods:  


Release with full accounting payment – cash option


Release on minimum documentation – RMD

  Cash option – You may take delivery of your goods immediately, when you • • •

Have a Business Number and an Importer/Exporter account Have a complete accounting package Pay the duties and taxes owing, with cash or certified cheque

RMD – CBSA may release the goods before you have accounted for them and paid duties on them, when you • • • • •

Electronically report your shipment Post an approved amount of security with the CBSA Account for shipments within 5 days Pay duties and taxes owing based on a monthly bill from CBSA Have met the requirements of other government departments (OGDs)


5.5 Duties Relief, & Dispute Resolution Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has some duties relief programs that may reduce, eliminate or defer duties on some goods. Drawback and duty referral • Memorandum Series D7 describes programs that allow drawback or deferral of duties paid on goods that you use in a manufactured product that is subsequently exported. Refunds • Memorandum Series D6 explain the circumstances under which you can claim a refund of duties on goods that are exported, or for defective goods, shortages, or goods returned to the foreign supplier for credit. Temporary imports • Temporary imports may be duty-free, for example goods imported for a trade show, goods returning from warranty repairs in the United States, or emergency goods – see Memorandum Series D8

Dispute resolution You may ask for a review of most decisions made by CBSA with respect to tariff classification, origin or value for duty, no later than 90 days after the original decision. Generally you use Form B2 Canada Customs – Adjustment Request. The dispute resolution process is described in Memorandum D11-6-7.

Links to online guides: Drawback and duty deferral http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d7-eng.html Refunds http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d6-eng.html Temporary imports http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d8-eng.html Form B2 Canada Customs – Adjustment Request http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/forms-formulaires/b2.pdf Dispute resolution http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/E/pub/cm/d11-6-7/README.html


Summary: The Importing Procedure






Checklist for Importing Commercial Goods Source: Canada Border Services Agency     Before importing:  


Obtain your Business Number (BN) with Import/Export account


Know the type of goods you want to import


Identify the country of origin, manufacture and export


Determine whether the goods are controlled, regulated or prohibited by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or any other government department or agency.


Determine the 10-digit tariff classification number and the applicable rate of duty for your goods from the Customs Tariff


Determine the value for duty


Determine whether the goods are subject to any other duties or taxes


Verify whether the GST (goods and services tax) is applicable


Select the method of shipping and communicate with your transportation company on cross-border requirements.


Determine if you are using the services of a broker or freight forwarder, and determine any associated costs.


    To import:  


Obtain invoices, certificates of origin and other required documents


Ensure that the goods are marked and labeled as required


Await notification that your shipment has arrived. Shipments arriving by mail or courier, and valued at less than CAN $1600 may be assessed and cleared by the CBSA or the courier company


Submit the required CBSA documents and pay duties and taxes, before the goods are released

Please Note: F

The shipment may be examined by government officials


You can adjust your CBSA documents if errors are made during the release process


The Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) secures compliance with CBSA legislation


Keep records of your imports for six years after the year you imported the goods





Sources of Assistance Federal Government Agencies Canada Business network http://www.canadabusiness.ca (click on Importing)

Export and Import Controls Bureau http://www.international.gc.ca/eicb/

Canada Border Services Agency http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca

Statistics Canada http://www.statcan.ca (click on Imports and Exports)

Industry-specific Agencies Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada http://www.agr.gc.ca

Competition Bureau http://competitionbureau.gc.ca (product labelling)

Canadian Food Inspection Agency http://www.inspection.gc.ca

Environment Canada http://www.ec.gc.ca (hazardous materials, endangered species, ozone-depleting substances)

Canadian Heritage http://www.canadianheritage.gc.ca (cultural property)

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca (drugs and health products, consumer products, nutritional labelling)

Canadian Intellectual Property Office http://cipo.gc.ca (trademarks, patents, copyright)

Industry Canada http://www.ic.gc.ca

Natural Resources Canada http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/mms/explosif/ (explosives)

Transport Canada http://www.tc.gc.ca (vehicles, tires)

Office of Energy Efficiency http://www.ooe.nrcan.gc.ca


Regional Development Agencies Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency http://www.acoa.ca

Western Economic Diversification Canada http://www.wd.gc.ca

Canada Economic Development (Quebec) http://www.dec-ced.gc.ca

FedNor (Northern Ontario) http://fednor.ic.gc.ca

Provincial Government Agencies Small Business BC http://www.smallbusinessbc.ca

Business New Brunswick http://www.gnb.ca/0398

Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry http://www.alberta-canada.com

Price Edward Island Business http://www.peibusinessdevelopment.co m

Saskatchewan Enterprise & Innovation http://www.ei.gov.sk.ca

Newfoundland & Labrador: Innovation, Trade & Rural Development http://www.intrd.gov.nl.ca

Manitoba http://www.gov.mb.ca/business

Nunavut: Department of Economic Development & Transportation http://edt.gov.nu.ca

Ontario Ministry of Small Business & Entrepreneurship http://sbe.gov.on.ca

North West territories: Industry, Tourism & Investment http://www.iti.gov.nt.ca/iea

Québec: Développement Économique, Innovation et Exportation http://www.mdeie.gouv.qc.ca

Yukon Economic Development http://www.economicdevelopment.gov.y k.ca

Liquor control boards: Consult the blue pages of your telephone directory. A useful summary is at http://www.thekirkwoodgroup.com/boards/


Trade Representatives in Canada

Below are listed the trade representatives for Canada’s major trading partners. For a complete list of foreign representatives in Canada, see http://w01.international.gc.ca/Protocol/main-en.asp Brazil http://www.consbrastoronto.org

Korea, Republic http://www.kotra.ca

China http://www.chinaembassycanada.org/ eng/

Mexico http://www.sre.gob.mx/canadaingles/

France http://www.ambafrance-ca.org

Norway http://www.embnorway.ca/info/trade.htm

Germany http://www,german-businessportal.info/

Taipei Economic & Cultural Office http://www.taiwan-canada.org

India http://www.hciottawa.ca/taip.htm

United Kingdom [email protected]

Italy http://www.ambottawa.esteri.it

United States of America http://www.usatrade.gov/canada

Japan External Trade Organization http://www.jetro.go.jp/canada Bilateral Business Associations: There are many bilateral business associations. Below are listed associations for Canada’s major trading partners. Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce http://www.ccacanada.com/bcc http://www.brazcan.org

American Chamber of Commerce in Canada http://www.amchamcanada.ca


British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce http://www.bcctc.ca

French Chamber of Commerce in Canada http://www.ccife.org/canada

Canada-China Business Association http://www.ccba.bc.ca

Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce http://www.iccc.org

Canada China Business Council http://www.ccbc.com

Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada http://www.iccbc.com

Canada-India Business Council http://www.canada-indiabusiness.ca

Japan-Canada Chamber of Commerce http://www.jc-coc.com/jc-coc

Canada Korea Business Association [email protected]

Mexico-Canada Chamber of Commerce [email protected] [email protected]

Canadian German Chamber of Industry & Commerce http://www.germanchamber.ca Industry associations

Scott’s Canadian Associations Scott’s Directories http://www.scottsdirectories.com/produ ct.asp?id=229

Associations Canada Grey House Publishing Canada http://www.greyhouse.ca/assoc.htm




Glossary General Terms:

All risk

The most comprehensive type of transportation insurance, providing protection against all loss or damage from external causes.

Anti-dumping duty

A special duty imposed to offset the price effect of dumping that has been determined to materially harmful to domestic producers. (See also Dumping)


The process of resolving a dispute or a grievance outside of the court system, by presenting it to an impartial third party or panel for a decision that may or may not be binding.

Area Control List

A list of countries from which any import requires an import permit.

Bid bond

When a seller is bidding on a foreign contract, a bid bond guarantees that the seller will take the contract if the bid succeeds. A seller who refuses the contract must pay a penalty equal to the amount of the bond.

Bill of lading

A contract prepared by the carrier or the freight forwarder with the owner of the goods. The buyer needs this document to take possession of the goods.

Business Number

Unique identifier for a Canadian company, used by major revenue programs such as GST and corporate income tax.

Cash in Advance / advance payment

A buyer pays a seller prior to receiving the product. It is the most risky form of payment from the importer’s perspective.

Certificate of origin

A document that certifies the country where the product was grown, manufactured or produced.

Commercial invoice

A document prepared by the seller or freight forwarder, and required by the buyer, to prove ownership and arrange for payment to the seller. The commercial invoice is also used to assess customs duties.


Confirming house

A company based in a foreign country that acts as a the Canadian buyer’s agent, and places confirmed orders with foreign sellers. They guarantee payment to the seller.


Delivery of goods to the buyer or distributor, who agrees to sell the goods and only then pay the seller. The seller retains ownership of the goods until they are sold, but also carries all financial burden and risk.


A written or oral agreement which the law will enforce.


Protection granted to authors and creators of literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, and sound recordings.


The sale or barter of goods on a reciprocal basis.

Countervailing duties

Additional duties imposed by an importing country to offset government subsidies in an exporting country, when the subsidized imports cause material injury to domestic producers in the importing country.

Customs broker

An individual or firm licensed by Canada Border Services agency to clear goods through Customs on behalf of another individual or firm.

Customs declaration

A document that traditionally accompanies traded goods. Required for statistical purposes, it accompanies all controlled goods being traded under a permit.

Customs invoice

A document used to clear goods through customs in the importing country, providing documentary evidence of the value of the goods. In some cases, the commercial invoice may be used instead.

D Memoranda

Legislation, regulations, policies, and procedures the Canada Border Services Agency uses to administer customs programs.

Dock receipt

A receipt issued by an ocean carrier to acknowledge receipt of a shipment at the carrier’s dock or warehouse facilities. (see also Warehouse receipt.)

Document of title

A document that provides evidence of entitlement to ownership of goods, for example a carrier’s bill of lading.

Documentary collection

The seller ships the goods to the buyer without a confirmed letter of credit or any other form of payment guarantee.

Draft / Bill of exchange

A written, unconditional order for payment from one party (the drawer) to another (drawee). A sight draft calls for immediate payment. A term drat requires payment over a specified period.



The sale of an imported product at a price lower than that which it is sold within the exporting country. Anti-dumping duties may be equal to the difference between the export price and the normal value in the exporting country.

Ex factory

Used in price quotations, refers to the price of goods at the seller’s loading dock.

Freight forwarder

A service company that provides a wide range of advisory, administrative, and physical services to shippers and to aid the international movement of goods.

Import Control List

Canadian regulation that identifies controlled products, for which an import permit is required.

Import/export account

Coding on the Business Number that identifies the Canadian company as an importer or an exporter.

Import permit

Document required to import products that are list on the Import Control List.


Standard shipping terms that set parameters for international shipments, specify points of origin and destination, outline conditions under which title is transferred from seller to buyer, and determine which party is responsible for shipping costs. They also indicate which party assumes cost if goods are lost or damaged in transit.

Insurance certificate

A document prepared by the seller or freight forwarder to provide evidence that insurance against loss or damage has been obtained for the goods.

Intellectual property

A collective term used to refer to the new ideas, inventions, designs, writings, films and so on, protected by copyright, patents and trademarks.

Landed cost

The cost of the imported product at the port or point of entry into the importing country, but before the addition of duties, local taxes, local packaging and assembly costs. Product modifications made prior to shipment are included in the landed cost.

Letter of credit

A financial instrument issued by a bank on behalf of an importer that guarantees the seller payment for goods or services, provided the terms of the credit are met.

Low value shipment

Shipment valued at less than $1600 CDN, which qualifies for simplified customs clearance procedures.


Other Government Departments, whose regulations are enforced by Canada Border Services Agency with respect to imported goods.


Open account

An arrangement under which goods are shipped to the Canadian buyer before the foreign seller receives payment. It is the least-risk form of payment from the importer’s perspective.

Packing list

A document prepared by the seller showing the quantity and type of merchandise being shipped.


A right that entitles the patent holder, within the country that granted or recognizes the patent, to prevent all others for a set period of time from using, making or selling the subject matter of the patent.

Preferential tariff treatment

A tariff provision that reduces or eliminates tariffs on specific goods, under a free trade or other international agreement.

Pro forma invoice

An invoice prepared by the seller prior to shipping the goods, informing the buyer of the goods to be sent, their value, and other key specifications.


Specific restrictions or limits imposed on the value or volume of imports of a specified product, fro example to protect domestic producers and consumers from temporary shortages of the goods, or to bolster their price in world markets.


An offer by the seller to sell the goods at a stated price and under stated conditions.


An economic benefit granted by a government to producers of goods, either direct (e.g. a cash grant) or indirect (e.g. low-interest export credits guaranteed by a government agency).

Surcharge / surtax

A tariff or tax on imports in addition to the existing tariff.


A duty or tax levied on goods transported from one customs area to another.


Legal protection of a word, logo, shape or design, which reflects the customer recognition of a particular product, company or brand.

Value for duty / Valuation

Valuation is the process by which the importer calculates the value for duty of the imported goods. The value for duty is the basis on which the duty is assessed.

Warehouse receipt

A receipt identifying the goods deposited in a recognized warehouse, either non-negotiable (i.e. specifying to whom the goods will be released) or negotiable (stating that the goods will be released to the bearer of the receipt).


Third party logistics company that provides outsourced logistics services.


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